Personal Obamacare Data in Maryland Can Be Used for ‘Law Enforcement and Audit Activities’?

Maryland’s Obamacare exchange website has been bogged down with countless glitches and errors, an experience familiar to many around the country.

However, even if one isn’t able to enroll successfully in the program, the website’s privacy policy, which users are required to scroll through before proceeding, is still available for whoever wants to read it.

And although the policy is pretty standard, packed with the usual legalese, there are a few details buried in it that have raised some concerns.

See, the policy states that all personal information used during the signing up process will be kept strictly confidential and will be used only by the Obamacare exchanges.

But then there’s this: “[W]e may share information provided in your application with the appropriate authorities for law enforcement and audit activities.”

Here is how the entire paragraph reads [emphasis added]:

Should you decide to apply for health coverage through Maryland Health Connection, the information you supply in your application will be used to determine whether you are eligible for health and dental coverage offered through Maryland Health Connection and for insurance affordability programs. It also may be used to assist you in making a payment for the insurance plan you select, and for related automated reminders or other activities permitted by law.  We will preserve the privacy of personal records and protect confidential or privileged information in full accordance with federal and State law. We will not sell your information to others.  Any information that you provide to us in your application will be used only to carry out the functions of Maryland Health Connection. The only exception to this policy is that we may share information provided in your application with the appropriate authorities for law enforcement and audit activities. 

The Maryland website doesn’t make clear if “appropriate authorities” means state or federal officials. The site also fails to mention what type of activity would merit the release of personal health information to the “appropriate authorities.”

Here’s one more thing from the policy notice:

If you send us an e-mail, we use the information you send us to respond to your inquiry. E-mail correspondence may become a public record. As a public record, your correspondence could be disclosed to other parties upon their request in accordance with Maryland’s Public Information Act.

“Since emails to the marketplace could conceivably involve private matters regarding finances, health history, and other sensitive issues, the fact that such information could be made part of the ‘public record’ could prevent users from being as free with their information than they might otherwise be,” The Weekly Standard notes.

“However, as noted, any requests for such emails would still be subject to Maryland’s Public Information Act which contains certain exceptions to the disclosure rules,” the report adds.

Maryland Health Connection, which runs the state’s marketplace, did not immediately respond to TheBlaze’s request for comment.

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